49ers RB Raheem Mostert Almost Became a Pro Surfer. Now He’s in the Super Bowl

NFL Steelers vs 49ers, Santa Clara, USA - 22 Sep 2019 San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert (31) in action during the NFL football game between the Pittsburg Steelers and the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. The 49ers defeated the Steelers 24-20 22 Sep 2019
Damon Tarver/CSM/Shutterstock

When San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert scores a touchdown, his go-to celebration is something surf lovers will recognize: He drops down to his stomach, mimics paddling out on his surfboard, then pops up and “rides” in a goofy stance. Mostert uses that celebration as a throwback to his days growing up in Florida, where he constantly surfed after school and on the weekends.

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“I started surfing when I was about 13 or 14,” Mostert told 49ers.com during the 2019 season. “It’s just been a big hit for me—going out there and riding the waves… just enjoying the atmosphere in the water. My touchdown celebration brings me back to being a kid and enjoying myself and surfing.”

In the NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers, the speedy Mostert got to mimic riding his surfboard quite a bit: Mostert had a record-setting day, rushing for 220 yards and four touchdowns to lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl. The team will face the Kansas City Chiefs in the game in Miami. Mostert had previously been cut by six different teams before sticking on with the 49ers, and now he’s one of the main reasons why the team is in the Super Bowl.

Here’s a look at Mostert celebrating by “surfing” after scoring against the Raiders during the 2019 season:

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Mostert is originally from New Smyrna Beach, which he called “shark-bite capital of the world,” but that danger didn’t stop him from getting into the water as a teen. In fact, Mostert had such good form as a surfer that he was once offered a sponsorship contract to turn pro when he was 14 by Billabong. Now, with the 49ers, Mostert is one win away from going to the Super Bowl. (The Niners beat the Minnesota Vikings in the Divisional Round of the playoffs and will face off next against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game. UPDATE: The Niners won, and now they’re in the Super Bowl against the Kansas City Chiefs.)

“The town where I grew up, it’s still to this day the shark-bite capital of the world,” Mostert said to The Athletic. “We would go out there and surf and they’d bite on people and stuff. They were usually just small sharks. But they’d mistake us for food.”

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Along with surfing, Mostert is a passionate advocate for keeping the oceans clean. This season, Mostert was one of a group of NFL players to support the Ocean Conservancy organization as part of the My Cause My Cleats campaign, where players were allowed to support and showcase causes by creating custom cleats. Mostert’s cleats were designed with a shark and waves.

While it was tempting for Mostert to keep surfing, he wanted to focus on track and field and football, both of which he competed in at the high school and collegiate level (he went to Purdue University). Even though he took the football route, when asked by NFL.com if he would have been happy if he ended up a pro surfer, the running back said: “Yes—in surfing you don’t take as much of a beating,” Mostert said with a laugh.

Even though his football career has kept him out of the ocean for the most part—Mostert lives part of the year in Cleveland, where he previously played for the Browns—the running back still finds time to hit the waves when he can: In 2018, when he was in Waikiki, Hawaii, for 49ers teammate DeForest Buckner’s wedding, he hopped on his board and hit the waves off the island of Oʻahu, getting fellow teammates Solomon Thomas and Kyle Nelson to join him as well.

Here’s a look at Mostert riding in Hawaii:

“I was kind of nervous, but I actually did well,” Mostert said in an interview with radio station KNBR. “I was surprised about myself.”

Mostert’s also a fan of other ocean sports, including stand-up paddleboarding, which he’ll do during the off-season when he gets the chance:

Here’s another look at Mostert doing his surfing touchdown celebration, which 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan called “probably my favorite (touchdown) dance”:

Packers 49ers Football, Santa Clara, USA - 24 Nov 2019 San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert (31) celebrates after scoring a touchdown with wide receiver Dante Pettis (18) during the second half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers in Santa Clara, Calif 24 Nov 2019
49ers running back Raheem Mostert (31) celebrates after scoring a touchdown with a surfing celebration. Ben Margot/AP/Shutterstock

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